This morning "Your Town Friday" is heading to the community of Geist. You'll find the area near the Geist Reservoir about 20 miles northeast of downtown Indy. Many waterfront restaurants and businesses have made it an area families have flocked to over the years, but just a short distance from the water you'll find a number of unique places to unwind!
The smell of fresh baked cinnamon rolls, chocolate chip cookies and freshly brewed coffee...yummm! You'll find all of that inside of this lodge-like coffee shop in Geist.
"I think people are amazed by the warmth because of the lodge feel with the big wooden beams and the wood floor. If you're from around here, it's a friendly vibe with a lot of familiar faces. I probably talk to and see the same 50 faces every day. We know about their kids, we know about the sports they were in this past weekend, you also run into people you haven’t seen in a while and hopefully it smells good!" said Christy Watson, owner of Mama Bear's of Geist.
Christy Watson has owned Mama Bear's of Geist for just over a year now, but the coffee shop actually opened 15 years ago as Northwood Coffee Shop and over the years it's had many different owners. Christy says she is here to stay and she thinks she's got a good thing going on at Mama Bear's!
"We feature Hubbard and Cravens coffee so we have a rotating variety. I like them because their coffee is seasonal. We have different dark roast coffees that we’ll have in the spring. Every morning we bake cinnamon rolls fresh, those are best sellers, and we have different kinds of quiche every day. My baker Carol is from church so she's the real deal! Right now we have butterscotch cheesecake and we do custom orders too. A customer’s wife is gluten free so we're whipping up a chocolate raspberry gluten free cake for her birthday today, so we do custom orders and we always have a case full of cake pops and all the good smelling tasting items," said Christy.
Christy says they don't have a set formula. If you don't like something, she'll remake it. She welcomes suggestions and feedback and she wants Mama Bear's to be that 3rd place you go outside of home and work or school.
"We just want this to be a great experience and everyone here is very friendly. We care about your families, we care about your kids, we care about your experience here and I think this warm cozy environment is enough to bring you back. We have different special events here, we call them after hours events. We have recovery meetings, we open our doors to Grace Community Church, the Hamilton Southeastern young life community, the Bishop GOP Club meets here and we have a fundraiser on the 12th for the Hannah Wilson Memorial Scholarship Fund," said Christy.
The first Friday night of the month Mama Bear's hosts an open mic night for high school students.
Just down the street is St. Yared’s Ethiopian Restaurant!
“We opened this restaurant on September 28, 2013, so a little over 2 years ago. Why we opened it? My wife and I and our four kids live here in Fishers and we didn’t see very many different things in terms of places to go to eat and thought this place was right for something like ours,” said owner of St. Yared’s, Haile Abebe.
Haile and his wife are originally from Ethiopia. His career has taken him all over the United States but Fishers is where he decided to settle. Two years ago he had a dream of introducing Ethiopian cuisine and culture to Central Indiana.
“Ethiopian food is like no other. It’s like the country itself. Ethiopia is a time capsule of humanity. Its history goes thousands of years back. For example, the bread we serve here is made from a grain we have farmed in Ethiopia that we have farmed for over 4,000 years. The perfect spice is like the perfect music, it has spiritual meaning so when they make spices it’s with tremendous reverence. Ethiopians also view food as something so sacred that when the food comes not only do we handle it in a way that is so sacred, but also we believe it comes guarded by angels,” said Haile.
Your experience at St. Yared in Geist begins with a traditional coffee ceremony.
“For Ethiopians, coffee has a spiritual meaning, so every morning we roast and we roast and drink the coffee to bring the sunshine into the soul. As the smoke rises, not only do we enjoy the aroma but at the same time folks believe the smoke will vanish the evil spirits that hover over us,” said Haile.
In the kitchen, Haile’s wife makes everything herself. It’s all fresh! Nothing is frozen or processed.
“We start with a special bread called Ambasha. It’s baked and broken to commemorate the last summer,” said Haile.
For entrees, there are a variety of choices that include chicken, lamb, beef, or vegetables. And for those who want to experiment and try a little of everything, they do a colorful combo plate. Haile says the flavorful food is healthy and there is something for everyone. And it seems his customers agree!
“Within two years, Trip Advisor has us in the top 10 in the greater Indy area and Yelp has us in top 50 for the State of Indiana,” Haile tells us.